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  • How To Get Your Child’s First Pet: Specific Types of Pets

    For parents getting their child a first pet, here are some words of advice for specific animal types from dogs and cats to birds and fish.
    by Julian Vorpal .
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    Read on getting other small mammals and fish as your child's first pet.


    Other Small Mammals – Take note that certain small animals are very delicate and children may drop them or injure them accidentally.  Unless you and your child are truly interested in caring for them, these pets may not be ideal.

    Hamsters, bunnies, gerbils and white mice must be kept in little cages.  Pet stores also have special toys with wheels and tunnels for them to explore.  It’s tricky getting a mated pair of rabbits as they tend to breed like, er, rabbits.  Unless you want your house to be a farm, stick to same gender pairings.  If you do want a big family, don’t touch the young ones—hamsters, gerbils and all such furries have the disconcerting habit of eating their young if touched by an outsider.

    Turtles – Although hardy and long-lived, turtles do tend to stink up their water if it isn’t changed regularly.  Also, because turtles don’t create the emotional response that dogs and cats do, children do not remain interested in keeping turtles as pets for long.


    Birds – Most bird owners pick breeds that do one of two things, sing or talk.  If you want your birds to sing, play music regularly. For a talking breed like a mynah or parrot, talk to it regularly.  Some can be trained to accept human contact like petting.  Be warned—if you get rare birds (ESPECIALLY if you get them illegally), you may have to register them at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources or risk a fine or imprisonment. 


    Be aware that certain breeds of birds (parrots, mynahs and the like) can live for 60-70 years so it may really be a lifetime commitment to care for one.

    Chicks, on the other hand, are too fragile for a child to care for and won’t last long in a house.  Full-grown chickens have specialized needs and unless you’re a sabungero, it may not be worth your while to get a chicken for your child.



    Fish – Like turtles, they are less like pets and more like ornaments so children may tire of them eventually.  The most difficult part is aquarium maintenance—keeping the pH balance of the water they live in.  It may take a few months to get the mix right so if you don’t want mess it up, keep the pet store number handy.  Some stores are willing to home service an aquarium for a fee.  Don’t even think about getting a large tank if you aren’t willing to spend a lot of time and effort on getting it habitable.   

    Hardy breeds such as sucker fish can be left alone for months without food but your average goldfish will keel over if you overfeed it or screw up its living water. 


    Photo from sxc.hu

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